Government must engage with unions on new regulatory body for education

James Corry
James Corry

#stuc2018 Congress called for the Scottish Government to set aside its proposals in the Education Bill, for an Education Workforce Council, that would see the dissolution of the existing regulatory bodies – the General Teaching Council, and the Community Learning and Development Standards Council for Scotland, whilst they engage properly with education unions on appropriate mechanisms for regulation for education workers.

James Corry, UNISON, supported the call for union engagement, and called for detailed discussions with unions about which staff groups are covered if any changes go ahead.

“While none of these staff are asking to be part of the new body, it seems odd to ask librarians and classroom assistants to register but not library assistants, technicians, or careers staff, all of whom support learning and teaching in schools and colleges.”

James made it clear that as UNISON represents the majority of support staff in schools and colleges, UNISON would expect a key role in discussing coverage and in agreeing standards for the different roles.

“Our members in early years, schools and colleges are clear that the new council, if it goes ahead, must not be set up as a teachers’ body in which they are second class members. It would need to be a genuine all workforce body, with all staff groups treated equally. In Wales, all the trade unions have representation on the leadership body of the council.”

He added: “Another concern comes from our members’ experiences in early years and care services, where they have to register with the Scottish Social Services Council… Despite initial hopes, SSSC registration has not led to improved recognition of their skills.

“If the new workforce council is to improve the skills and qualifications of education support staff, there needs to be a properly resourced ongoing training and professional development programme in working hours, with sufficient staff cover to free people for training.”

James also underlined the issues caused by SSSC fee increases against the backdrop of the prolonged pay freeze, and asked that any fees associated with the proposals would be reasonable, and taking account of earnings, with any rises no higher than pay rises.

He concluded: “This proposal affects a huge number of trade union members. It must not be rushed into without proper consultation with all the education unions.”

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